Tour of the Plum Street Temple

It’s Day 223 of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today I am featuring the 365Cincinnati Tour we took today at the Plum Street Temple.

plum street temple cincinnati

This is the Temple that sits across the street from City Hall downtown.  After walking by both the Plum Street Temple and St. Peter in Chains that day, I knew these were places that people would love to see.  So we booked the tour we took today and have a tour of St. Peter in Chains coming up in December (see site for details).

plum street temple cincinnati

From the minute you walk in the front door you are hit with the beauty of the Plum Street Temple.  It is truly magnificent.  Between having a new camera and a gorgeous place of worship, I took way too many pictures!  So we’ll have lots o’ pics today :).

plum street temple cincinnati

The Temple was completely restored in the mid-1990’s.  The interior walls are plaster and are painted (not wallpapered).  It’s hard to believe!  Completely stunning!

plum street temple cincinnati

The chandeliers are original to the Temple, which was built in 1865.  They were originally gas and  they have been, of course, converted to electric.

plum street temple cincinnati

Our tour guide, the wonderful Burt Gross (a third generation member of the Plum Street Temple), told us about many of the “items” that are in every synagogue.  Among them are the tablets with the Ten Commandments (stained glass in picture below) as well as the Star of David (on the top of the pillar).

plum street temple cincinnati

And the Menora… which I learned has seven candles for the seven days of the week.

plum street temple cincinnati

And the everlasting light, which may be hard to see in the picture but it’s a flickering light at the bimah (the raised platform from which the Torah is read).

plum street temple cincinnati

Burt told us all about the Temple’s history.  In 1853 the congregation, which started out as a group of German Jewish immigrants, set out for Albany, New York in search of Rabbi Isaac M. Wise.   The congregation convinced Rabbi Wise and his family to move to Cincinnati.  Little did they know that their move to engage Rabbi Isaac M. Wise as its spiritual leader would permanently alter the congregation’s course of history and that of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Wise is responsible for initiating and overseeing the construction of the Plum Street Temple.  He founded the Hebrew Union College, now the oldest rabbinical school in the Western Hemisphere.   He also instituted the The American Israelite, a weekly paper that is still in print today. (information supplied by our tour guide and from the Plum Street Temple’s site)

plum street temple cincinnati

I would highly recommend going to see the Plum Street Temple if you have the chance.  They do offer group tours but you must call the office and book them in advance.

plum street temple cincinnati

plum street temple cincinnati

plum street temple cincinnati

The Plum Street Temple is located at 720 Plum Street downtown

About Bridgett Raffenberg 881 Articles
Cincinnati lover, Mom, wife, travel enthusiast, Wordpress lover (not necessarily in that order). Founder of 365 Things to do in Cincinnati.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for setting up the tour yesterday – great to hear about the history of one of Cincy’s nostalgic buildings. Look forward to the tour in December!

  2. Thanks Bridgett!!

    Can’t wait now for the St. Peter in Chains Tour!!!

    This was a GREAT way to spend lunch! And sign me up if you can get Burt to do one of his other tours! He’s just incredible!!

  3. Where would be a few options for lunch within walking distance of the city hall tour? I’m coordinating an outing with my group of ladies that are new to the area.

    • Hi Vikki, City Hall is kind of removed from most lunch spots. I’m having trouble thinking of someplace you could walk to from City Hall. Cafe de Paris is on Garfield Place and Washington Platform is sort of close too. If you all would be willing to hop in your cars for a short trip, Over the Rhine is very close and you can all park in Mercer Garage together (on Vine Street, on the right as you go north on Vine) and you’d have a wide range of places to eat there. Another suggestion would be to go to Court Street for Tom and Chee or Huit (a new BBQ place). There’s parking on the street there.

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